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Please Explain "Soft Cycling"

Captain Fantastic

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Captain Fantastic

I recently had a poster suggest trying to "soft cycle" my tank which is just a few days old.


I used 14lbs of fiji loaded with coraline, brittle stars, bristleworms etc. which I took out of a display aquarium at a LFS. I used 14 lbs of argonite and that NO "live" saltwater to start out.


I am thinking the idea was to maybe add a small fish or two to help support the current level of bacteria in the system ... but maybe I am misunderstanding what is meant by this term ?




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"soft cycling" (as i term it) is where you do not let the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels get too high. this is usually done via waterchanges. by "soft cycling" you keep the nitrogen cycle low and allow the system to slowly adjust to processing typical wastes products/nutrients (actually, it's a bit more complicated than all that but that's a simple explanation).


whereas in normal/typical "hard cycling", you let the LR/LS run its course, i.e. letting the ammonia spike and nitrites spike etc.


unfortunately, this process will also likely kill everything larger than a copepod in the tank along the way if the cycle if severe enough (sometimes hardier animals survive). but most of the biodiversity you may inadvertently get on fresh LR will likely die, e.g. sponges, tunicates, stars, cucumbers, molluscs, 'pods, worms, etc. in that way, it's much like taking a piece of the reef directly from the ocean and placing it in your tank.


the goal is basically to limit the ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates to give the biodiverse hitchhikers usually found on uncured/fresh LR a chance to survive.

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